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- The Mediterranean diet is loaded with fruit, veg, whole grains, olive oil and fish
- The new trial adds to the body of evidence that shows the diet’s health benefits
- They found cirrhosis patients are less likely to be hospitalised following the diet
- The deadly condition kills around one million people across the world each year
Stephen Matthews For Mailonline
A Mediterranean diet is not just good for the heart – it may also boost the health of the liver, a study suggests.
Adopting the diet, loaded with fruit and veg, whole grains, olive oil and fish, lowers the risk of hospitalisation in patients with cirrhosis.
The deadly condition, scarring of the liver caused by long-term damage, kills one million people across the world each year, figures show.
There is currently no cure and treatment revolves around slowing its progression, before it leads to the need for a liver transplant or even kills.
Adopting the diet, loaded with fruit and veg, whole grains, olive oil and fish, lowers the risk of hospitalisation in patients with cirrhosis
But the new research, out of Virginia Commonwealth University, suggests following a Mediterranean diet could boost the outcome of cirrhosis patients.
The trial, branded ‘important’, adds to the growing body of evidence that shows the benefits of the healthy diet.
Scientists found the diet, which contains only a small amount of red meat, improves the gut microbial diversity of cirrhosis patients.
The discovery, derived from nearly 300 adults, adds to a growing body of evidence that highlights a diverse microbiome can halt of the condition.
Some 157 Americans and 139 Turkish adults took part in the study. They were either healthy, or had a form of cirrhosis.
The volunteers had their dietary habits analysed and a sample of stool tested to assess how diverse their gut microbiota was.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A MEDITERRANEAN DIET?
Previous research by the Maastricht University in the Netherlands found that adopting a Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of developing the most deadly form of breast cancer by 40 per cent.
Experts from the University of Barcelona also believe the range of nutrients in the diet makes children less likely to have ADHD.
Cambridge University even found that adopting such a diet would save around 2,000 lives in Britain a year by preventing deaths from heart attacks and stroke.
Researchers from the IRCCS Neuromed Institute in Pozzilli, Italy, even suggest doctors prescribe olive oil, vegetables and nuts before statins to reduce a patient’s heart attack risk.
Scientists followed the patients for three months to assess the risk of hositalizations, caused by complications such as jaundice and gallstones.
Researchers, led by Dr Jasmohan Bajaj, uncovered a striking difference between the gut microbiota of the Turkish and American adults.
The US population tended to follow a Western diet, while the Turkish cohort often consumed a Mediterranean-style diet.
An analysis of stool samples revealed the Turkish participants had a significantly greater diversity in their gut microbiota.
However, the researchers discovered there was a significantly higher number of hospitalisations in the US population.
Dr Bajaj said: ‘It is the first study to confirm a link between diet, microbial diversity and clinical outcomes in liver cirrhosis.’
The findings were presented at the International Liver Congress in Paris last week.
Professor Annalisa Berzigotta, a board member of The European Association for the Study of the Liver, described the study as ‘important’.
She said: [It] adds to the existing evidence indicating a robust, pleiotropic beneficial effect of following a “Mediterranean-style diet” on human health.’
The new study, she added, shows that an antioxidant-rich Mediterranean diet has a protective effect in the early and advanced phases of liver disease.
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A Mediterranean diet may boost the health of the liver